tv Tavis Smiley PBS June 19, 2017 6:00am-6:31am PDT
good good evening from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. this month, we did our program in new york city, while there we sat down with tony bennett at 90 years young. he joins us to talk about his latest projects and the continuati continuation celebration of his years. i am glad you are joining us with the celebration of tony bennett, coming up right now. ♪
>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like yoyou. thank you. ♪ to quote the title of his latest book, tony bennett, just getting started. he celebrates his 90th year. last december our program televised his celebration of tony bennett celebrates 90. ♪ i don't care if it is china town
or on the river tide, i don't have any reason ♪ ♪ let them all behind, we are in a new york state of mind ♪ ♪ >> i get excited. [ laughter ] >> i get excited every time i see you do this. that nbc special was something special >> it was, thank you very much. it was amazing. >> i loved it. >> yeah. >> how did it feel? >> you have been feed so many times so many times all around the world. how does it feel for all of those stars to show up to celebrate you on your 90th. >> it is amazing. all these great artists performing and celebrating my 90th birthday. i am just getting started. [ laughter ] i know you must get asked all
the time and we had conversations before. for those who never heard you talk about this. how is it that you still sound that way. how do you keep that instrument together? >> well, i love what i am doing. >> yeah. i always have. as early as the very young person, i knew that i just love to sing for people and i feel that way right now. i still have a lot to learn. >> no, you don't. >> you? >> yeah. really. >> what are you learning at 90? >> the fact that the audiences have been so good to me through the years. >> you h yuh-huh. >> i feel completely content about performing for them. i really feel like i am jus just -- i feel like i can get better. i am enjoying my life very much.
i don't know if i have told you this on camera, i have told you this privately. i will say it now. since you mentioned how good the audiences have been to you over the years. i noted the very first time i saw you in concert many years ago and i have been honored to see you many times. the first time i saw you, i noticed how every song you take your microphone and take it under your arm and applaud the audience and you pull it back out and say a few words and you go onto the next song. i have never seen an artist certainly one of your stature who on stage shows his or her appreciation for the audience by clapping for them between every song. >> well, they have been wonderful to me. you know i try to make people feel good and when i see that it is starting to happen, i really get moved on stage when i see that they're enjoying themsel s
themselves, forgetting their problems. it is a wonderful profession, i love to perform because i love to make pele feel good. that's my whole game is try to make people feel good is try to make people feel good is when i am on stage. where or how did you develop this appreciation for the audience in the way that you have it. every artist appreciates having a fan base but you have a connection with your audience. how did that develop over the years? >> when i came out on the second world war, i joined the american theater wing. >> uh-huh. >> that was a wonderful experience because they told me never to compromise and only stay with quality. it is been quite a personal war for me to do quality music because every producer wants to
sell music immediately. i believe their attitude is wrong. they think the public is stupid and don't give anything to intelligent and i am the opposite of that. i found out my mom was my biggest influence. >> uh-huh. >> because -- i remember clearly one day she took a dress, she was making dresses feeding three children because my father died. she threw the dress over her shoulder and said, "don't have me work on a bad dress." that sentence saves my whole career. i decided that i will never sing a cheap song just to get a hit song. i decided to stay with quality.
by doing that i ended up following in love with the great american song book. >> uh-huh. >> that's freddis stare was responsible for it. everybody wrote the best songs for him. the greatest kpocomposer for hi. he was my master until this day. two people that i love so much to watch and be entertained by is stare and charlie chaplain. >> until this day. >> you mentioned cole porter. i am from indiana and as of cole parter. i grew up listening to him.
>> he's the best. >> he was the best. >> yes. when you mentioned earlier that you promised to only do quality stuff and you never want sing cheap songs because some producers begged you to do it to get a big hit so you have been true of who you are through your artistic news. i wonder if i can ask you, what for you to make a great song. i asked questions of artists and great song writers like smoky robertson. what for them make a great song. you are interpreter of that great american song book. what is for you? what's for tony bennett to make a great song? >> a best example is a composer named berlin. he was amazing. every time he wrote a song, it was simple and profound at the same time.
you will never get tired hearing a great berlin song. >> i think you answered my question, simple, profound and ever lasting, those are part of the ingredients of great songs for you. >> you have a lot of collaborations. you been hanging out with lady gaga, amy whinehaus, what is it about collaboration that you enjoy? >> it is the individual talents. >> uh-huh. >> certain people just know how to do it. lady gaga she does not realize these days how great she is. i think she will do well in films and a wonderful person and very honest and very educated.
she repocorded and more importantly, the public adores her. i think hopefully she will be around for a very long time and stays very popular. >> you mentioned lady gaga perhaps doing for films into the future which raise the question for me, there is been so many great artists who decided to do do a litany of things. they may start out acting or singing and they started acting and so they did this and that and the other. obviously, you are a great painter, when did you start painting? >> well, when i was about seven or eight years old. >> that young? >> my father died. >> yeah.
>> and my relatives was so supportive to help my mom out raising three children and were were very, very poor. my relatives would come over to make her feel good. and, i was always so grateful that they were so nice to her. they were the ones that told me, we love the way that you paint and we love the way you sing. and i said -- that's who i am. it was a wonderful thing that came from my own family. my relatives. it was so good to my mom. >> and they encourage you to do for painting? >> they just said, we love the way you paint and sing, that's who i am. to this day, that's who i have been studying to paint and sing. >> yeah. >> i love it, i love it.
>> have you slowed down in your painting or are you still -- >> no, i paint everyday. >> you make me feel like a slacker, man, you are getting up everyday. >> i watch you every night. >> come on. >> you make me feel lazy. you paint everyday, man. >> do you paint different things and moves. when you get up and paint everyday, is there androg agend. what are you painting everyday? >> i live across the street from central park which is right in the heart of manhattan. it is nature. my boss and my god is nature. >> uh-huh. >> it is everything. >> yeah. >> no matter what an artist comes up with, including picasso or anyone else, it is not as good as the creativeness of nature. >> uh-huh. >> nature is unbelievable.
the more you study it, the more you cannot -- we are just a student of nature. nature is the boss. it tells us just what to do. >> i hear you. >> whatnot to do. [ laughter ] that's funny. >> i can take that 18 million different ways but i take you for it. >> if nature is all of that, all you have to do is wake up in the morning and look out the window at central park and you get inspired to do something. >> that's exactly right. that's where i live. i live right across the street from central park and right there is nature. and nature it makes you realize that the following man, he's a giant giant sky scraping and it is the opposite of nature makes
it, it is never straight and mathematical. it is strictly natural all the time, trees are natural. every tree is different. >> yeah. >> every blade of grass is different. >> every sky is different. it is fabulous. you keep watching nature. that's the boss. that's the massive painter, that's nature. >> do you paint on the road or just at home? >> where ever you are, you pull out your brushes? >> has it always been coloring? >> do you do sketches? >> do all of it. >> study anatomy and people and compositions. it is a wonderful way to live sfooch.
>> you were not joking at all. when you say i was just getting started, you meant that. [ laughter ] >> is there anything. [ music playing ] -- musically at 90 that you have not done yet? >> that's a good question. there is an automatic search about that. >> uh-huh. >> i cannot say this is what i like to do. >> sure, sure. i don't know yet. >> you will know it when you see it? >> i like to get involved with another brand new chump of players from queens who's fantastic. >> uh-huh. >> right. >> he's settle and yet very muted, it is not like a loud trumpet -- he understands
interpretations. i love it, i love it. it is spontaneous and very honest. it is the most honest form of performing. you just think or a second of the moment of how you feel at that particular moment and it is a great experience and not only do it yourself but listening to other artists that do that and how they feel at that moment and make something out of it >> when you meet the right people or the right opportunity come up for you, that's how you figure out what's the next step is. >> oh yeah. >> this organic and authentic. >> it is proper involvement. >> yeah. >> what do you hope that your audience have taken away from seeing you all these years? >> you talk about the joy they give you. what do you hope they take away from your perp foperformances.
>> i cannot tell you how thrilled i am. when you first start, you don't know what you do. it takes about nine years of what to leave out and what to put in. >> uh-huh. i cannot figure it out. i love to make people feel good. >> that's my premise. i want everybody end up feeling good. when i feel good, i walk away feeling so content about that and i made them forget their problems. >> yeah. >> for that one hour that i am on stage. >> as long as they feel better leaving when they came, you are content. >> exactly, exactly. >> are there nights where you walk off the stage where you feel like you were not in tiptop shape? >> do you ever feel that way or do you always feel like, i killed it again tonight.
>> yeah, i cannot wait to hit the stage. [ laughter ] >> i love it. i like to make them feel good. >> i cannot wait. i love it. >> on the nights that you don't feel like you don't feel perfect pitch or great voice, how do you navigate through those nights? >> i don't show up. [ laughter ] >> i love that. that's funny. i will remember that line for as long as i live. if i am not on top of my game, i just don't show up. [ laughter ] >> i got to get myself together after that. tell me about this cd, your 90th tribute birthday cd. there is a lot of good materials on that thing, man. >> oh yeah. there is a lot of great performance that i am involved with in this album. >> yeah. >> i have not heard it yet.
i know there is a lot of good stuff in it that i have done through the years. >>. [ laughter ] >> i guess at this point in your career, do you ever get tired of hearing yourself sing? >> no. >> you still like -- >> i won't release it if it is not right in there. >> yeah, yeah. you are still happy with the way you sound all these years. >> yeah, i had very good training at the american theater wing when i came out of the army and the service and i joined the american theater wing and that was the best thing. >> a lot of training over the years. boy, they taught me well of never compromise and do everything but quality. never cheat the public. give them quality, quality. >> you have done that for 90 years. that's what i like to do. >> i want to close representing your book again, tony bennett just got started on the book. >> there are two or three things that i love with this.
i love art all in this thing. all the art is done by mr. bennett itself. the book is full of art number one. number two, i love how this book tells a story of your friendship and relationship s and all kind of people in your life. just going through this book and looking at the names of the people that you have known and the stories you tell your friends with him, gerald and jackie kennedy and martin luther king jr. the time you spent with doctor king supporting and helping to raise money for the civil rights movement. >> that's because of bill fontae. he told me to do it. i fought a war. when we told me what was going
on with racial prejudice, i decided to go with him. that's the only time i took a march and it changed my lif life -- it is funny. >> i have got to say its got to be looking back of your life for all that you accomplished musically. when the country really needed you, you stepped up and did your part in the civil rights movement. >> thank you. it was harry bill described to me some of the tragedies that peop people were being treated and when i heard that -- at first i said i don't want to fight. i don't want to fight anymore. >> if you need my help, i will be there and you showed up. >> he told me what was really going on and i said i will go with you. we took that walk. >> you have been a good friend to a lot of people over the years and the stories of this book under scores that. and you have been good to all your fans. you give us a lot of music and a
lot of good times. >> i am your biggest fan. >> well, i am your biggest fan. it is one big admiration society, i appreciate it. tony bennett in his 90th years and doing it like nobody's business. tony bennett's just getting started. tony bennett celebrates 90. the cd is amazing. i don't know how this nbc works, if you did not see that nbc's special, please find a way to see that. you won't spend another two hours watching that special. it was a powerful thing. congratulations out of advance coming out of that. mr. bennett, i love you. >> thank you, i watch you every night. >> if you are in the resort, you can see his painting at paisley's park.
. . good evening, from los angeles, i am tavis smiley, tonight first actor allen nol discusses his new book titled "if i understood you when i have this look on my face." >> discovering new ways to help people communicate and relate to one another effectively then benjamin booker joins us of his debut album, withe are glad youe joining us, all of that is coming up just a moment. ♪